We all want to be slim, healthy, clever and energised. It’s tempting to think that following a new health trend that everyone’s talking about is the way to look and feel great. Unfortunately, fads tend to pass quickly for a reason – they are not backed by science. Or results! We took a look at the top health fads you should ignore in 2018 because there’s no research that proves they work, and in some cases, loads of evidence that they don’t.
Detoxes and cleanses You may have heard of the juice fast, or the purple diet, or any number of other ways to purify your body by cutting out wheat, dairy, fat, meat, grains, sugars or whatever other food is thought to be toxic. But actually, a healthy body doesn’t need detoxing - your skin, liver, lungs and kidneys get rid of what the body doesn’t need. If you were to have a build-up of toxins in your system, you’d be extremely ill, because these organs would not be doing their job. A few days of eating cucumber wouldn’t change that.
By all means, eat more healthily and cut down on sugar and alcohol, but that should be a life goal, not a short-term fix for something that isn’t really wrong with you.
Colonic hydrotherapy The detox brigade are also fond of “colonic hydrotherapy”, which is a nicer way of saying “an enema”. Instead of using this medical intervention as a cure for extreme constipation, celebrities and their followers are now getting “cleaned out” in an attempt to detoxify, reduce bloating and improve their energy levels.
Unless you have a problem - in which case you should consult your doctor - your body is probably perfectly good at cleaning out your bowels all on its own. Just be sure to get lots of fiber in your diet, and drink enough water.
Oxygen shotsSimon Cowell has been known to show up on the red carpet clutching cans of oxygen, lest he need a quick pick-me-up. Oxygen therapy is claimed to help manage stress and fatigue and to give users a mental boost as well. In reality, oxygen is one of those good things it’s possible to get too much of.
Oxygen is one of those good things it’s possible to get too much of.
Too much oxygen (for example, more than you get from regular breathing) can increase free radical production, which can damage your cells. And even if you do get a boost from a hit of oxygen, this would be strictly temporary – a couple of seconds at best.
Avoiding egg yolks Egg yolks have a bad rap because of their dietary cholesterol but cutting them out of your diet means that you are missing out on a healthy dose of B vitamins. Doctors today are also now aware that egg yolks generally cause the good kinds of cholesterol, which actually reduce insulin resistance.
So the next time someone suggests an egg-white omelette as a healthy breakfast, demand your golden yolks for a true health boost.
Alkaline diet Your body has a very sophisticated regulatory system for keeping its pH within a very narrow range. Eating an alkaline diet, therefore, does not change the overall pH of your entire system, and does not give you the purported benefits of a health and immunity boost. Avoiding foods on the basis of “acidity” could also lead to nutritional deficiencies.
However, since most of the foods recommended in the alkaline diet are fresh fruit and vegetables – just not the acidic ones – it’s not a bad thing to get more of them. Just be sure that you are getting a balanced diet while you’re at it.
Oh, and if you find that too much red meat or red wine gives you heartburn, avoid those things for your stomach’s sake.
Eating your placenta Celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian and January Jones ate their placentas after giving birth, but that doesn’t mean that you should too – even if your midwife suggests it. The argument is that the placenta contains all sorts of vital nutrients that help mothers to recover from childbirth and avoid post-natal depression. The fact is that there is no medical science to support this.
The purpose of a placenta is actually to prevent certain impurities from reaching your baby, and those may still be contained in its tissues. Also, it is a biological product and unless you refrigerate it from the moment it is delivered until you eat it, it runs the risk of bacterial contamination. And if you are using the services of a company that will grind it up and put it into capsules for you, you have no idea of their levels of health and safety compliance.
Activated charcoal Capsules of activated charcoal – or even activated charcoal smoothies or crackers – are being touted as the next big thing in health. The reasoning is that since activated charcoal is used by doctors to treat poison victims, it must make you super-healthy if you take it when you haven’t been poisoned.
The problem is that nutrient molecules bond with activated charcoal in pretty much the same way as poison does. In extreme cases, this can lead to malnutrition. In less extreme cases, it can lead to constipation, vomiting or diarrhoea.
Chances are, if it’s been used to make a pizza crust or a cheese an interesting black colour, it’s not going to do you any harm, but in large doses, there’s no evidence to suggest it’s actually good for you. Unless you’ve been poisoned.
Raw water The quest for “raw” water from springs or boreholes has reached a frenzy in Los Angeles, but consuming untreated unfiltered water is not necessarily good for you. Even if you’re no fan of the chlorine or fluoride in tap water, untreated and untested natural water could be contaminated with diseases or other undesirable particles.
This is going to become particularly relevant in South Africa as Cape Town faces the very real prospect of Day Zero. Never mind the health fad – if you are considering finding a natural water source just for survival, be sure that the water it produces is safe to drink.
Think before you fad If you’re looking for a way to get healthy, rather than relying on the latest celebrity trend or piece of advice from your cousin, do a bit of online research to find out whether scientific studies actually back it up. Chances are, they probably don’t. For the best results, eat your vegetables, drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep and go for a jog – science has a lot to say in support of those activities.
The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of 1Life or its employees.